Weekend Review: LSU-'Bama was a defensive masterpiece

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OK. Now that The Game of the Century is over, everybody gets five minutes to catch their breath and get ready for what could be a pretty wild finish. While you're resting, let's take a look at what we learned on Saturday:

1. If you thought the LSU-Alabama game was boring, then you need to take up a hobby -- like chess. Or maybe soccer: I suppose it is a product of the spread offense age, when people define good football by how many points are scored. But I was getting texts Saturday night that the 9-6 overtime win by LSU over Alabama was boring and lacked drama because no touchdowns were scored. If you count yourself in that camp then, Bubba, let me explain this as gently as I can: You don't know a masterpiece when it's right in front of you.

The tension in that game was created by the knowledge that not a lot of points were going to be scored and so that every single play mattered. Nobody could take a play off. The Alabama and LSU offenses, you'll recall, were pretty damned good until they had to play each other.

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There were great plays galore in the game, but they were made by defensive players instead of offensive players. The leaping interception by LSU's Eric Reid at the Alabama 1-yard line was one of the biggest plays in the SEC in the past five years.

Remember this: The last Game of the Century between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan in 2006 was labeled an instant classic because the score was 42-39. Need I remind you that the undefeated Ohio State team which played in that classic was subsequently beaten 41-14 in the BCS Championship game by Florida, which got there with defense.

Offense does entertain and there is nothing wrong with entertainment. But defense wins championships. Always has. Always will. That is why the SEC has won five straight national titles and is heavily favored to win a sixth.

Now having said all that, was the game good enough to warrant a rematch if both Oklahoma State and Stanford lose? I don't see the voters pulling that trigger, even though Alabama only dropped to No. 3 on Sunday. But the argument sure will be a lot of fun.

2. The loss of Ryan Broyles could change everything for Oklahoma: Since Oklahoma stubbed its toe against Texas Tech, the prevailing narrative has been that the Sooners could win out, including a Dec. 3 visit to Oklahoma State, and be the most deserving one-loss team when the final BCS Standings are released on Dec. 4. But that narrative took a big hit when Ryan Broyles, the school's all-time leading receiver, lay crumpled on the turf on Saturday against Texas A&M. Broyles is just an extraordinary player who finishes his career with an NCAA record 347 catches. You hate to see a special player go out this way. Can Oklahoma still beat Oklahoma State without Broyles? Sure. But the job just got tougher.

3. Ladies and gentlemen, proof once more that truth is stranger than fiction: UCLA (5-4) controls its destiny in the Pac-12 South. It wasn't that long ago that people were starting to talk about Coach Rick Neuheisel in the past tense at UCLA, his alma mater. It wasn't a question whether or not Neuheisel was going to get the gate. The only question was whether or not the Bruins could get Chris Petersen (Boise State) to come visit. After a 29-28 win over Arizona State, UCLA can now WIN the Pac-12 South if it can take care of business with Utah, Colorado and Southern California. If UCLA wins out it could earn the right to make a second trip to Palo Alto to play Stanford in the first conference championship game. The first visit did not go so well for the Bruins, who lost to the Cardinal 45-19.

4. This week's game ball goes to -- who else? -- Derrick Brodus: Who is Derrick Brodus? He is the scout team kicker at Tennessee who doesn't get to dress for games. So on Saturday he is sitting around the apartment in Knoxville getting ready to watch Tennessee play Middle Tennessee State on television. It is only 50 minutes before kickoff and the phone rings. Tennessee's No. 1 kicker, Michael Palardy, didn't dress because of injury. The backup kicker, Chip Rhome, had just pulled a muscle in pregame warmups and could not go. Brodus needed to get to Neyland Stadium ASAP and coach Derek Dooley was sending a police cruiser for him. Brodus gets to the stadium, suits up and makes a 21-yard field goal and three extra points in Tennessee's 24-0 win. Dooley gives Brodus a game ball.

You should know, however, that Brodus has kicked under pressure before. He was part of two state championship teams at nearby Alcoa High School, where he was also an All-State soccer player.

5. Boston College is not very good, and that's too bad because linebacker Luke Kuechly is really great. Boston College (2-7) lost to Florida State, which means the Eagles are going to experience their first losing season since 1990. But there has been one bright spot this season for the Eagles. Kuechly had 20 tackles against the Seminoles (12 solo) to mark the 31st straight game that he has recorded 10 or more tackles. That is ridiculous. Through nine games this season the junior from Cincinnati leads the nation with 150 tackles (16.67 average). With three games left he is on pace to break his personal best of 183 tackles last season. The NCAA record for tackles in a season is held by Lawrence Flugence of Texas Tech, who had 193 in 2002.

Watch The Tony Barnhart Show Wednesday at 8 p.m. on The CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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